The arrest of the wife of CJNG boss El Mencho is being interpreted as a win against the cartel and a significant blow to the group's money laundering ability. But is her capture truly that significant?
On November 15, troops arrested Rosalinda González Valencia, wife of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho," one of Mexico's most powerful drug traffickers and leader of the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación - CJNG, according to a government press release. Officials said in the release that her arrest – which occurred in Zapopan, Jalisco – was considered a "significant blow to the financial structure of organized crime in the state of Jalisco."
González Valencia, alias "La Jefa" (The Boss), has a significant reputation in the Mexican organized crime landscape in her own right.
González Valencia is the niece of Armando Valencia Cornelio, alias “El Maradona,” founder of the now-extinct Milenio Cartel. González Valencia and her brothers were present from the very early days of the CJNG, as many Milenio members joined with the cartel, according to El País.
Her brothers also founded the criminal group known as the Cuinis, which was reportedly responsible for much of the cartel's finances and money laundering operations. They were considered to be a sister organization of the CJNG for several years until the arrest of numerous members of the González Valencia clan led to the Cuinis no longer functioning as a separate group.
González Valencia was previously arrested in Jalisco in May 2018 on money laundering charges but was freed three months later due to a lack of evidence. She paid a fine of 1.5 million Mexican pesos ($72,000).
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The González Valencia family was instrumental to the growth of the CJNG, taking control of the financial aspect of the cartel. At the same time, El Mencho led the group in its territorial expansion and feuds with other groups such as the Zetas.
The Cuinis amassed a veritable empire of assets through which to launder millions in criminal profits for the CJNG, including shopping malls, hotels, real estate agencies, restaurants and a tequila company. Their activities were not just limited to Mexico, as the arrests of several González Valencia family members revealed alleged money laundering connections to Brazil and Uruguay.
The wedding of Oseguera Cervantes and González Valencia was another instrumental step in ensuring the early power of the CJNG and the Cuinis.
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However, as the CJNG expanded to become a national force across much of Mexico, the Cuinis have not kept up. The arrest of two prominent leaders, Abigael González Valencia, seen as the second-in-command of the CJNG, in 2015 and José González Valencia, alias "El Chepa," have left the group weakened.
With much of the Cuinis membership behind bars and the US government offering up to $10 million for the capture of El Mencho, it may be that the González Valencia was one of the last links between the two.
Oseguera Cervantes has endured as head of the CJNG while many in his family have been arrested, including his son, brother and brothers-in-law. But the arrests don't appear to have had much impact on Oseguera Cervantes' life.